What might seem like the descending of heavenly paradise on earth turned out quite differently for Londoners in the fall of 1814. Following an accident at the Meux’s Horse Shoe Brewery a tidal wave of beer washed down the streets of Tottenham bringing death and destruction.
World’s largest beer barrel
This peculiar history begins with a party at the Meux’s Brewery where a grand dinner had been organized to celebrate the construction of a giant vat capable of holding 3555 barrels - 610,000 litres - of beer. Being 22 feet tall and having a diameter of 60 feet the vat was in fact so large that the dinner was celebrated within the vat itself which held a staggering 200 guests, the goal being to outdo a competitor who constructed a vat in which he managed to fit 100 guests.
After the dinner workers started filling the vat to it’s full capacity unaware of a faulty supporting hoop that would lead to disaster. With the vat unable to withstand the immense pressure of more than half a million litres of beer a rupture was inevitable. Violently bursting through the brewery the wave of beer caused a chain reaction rupturing other vats releasing a total of 1,470,000 litres of beer onto the streets of Tottenham.
Disaster and blessing
As a small lake of beer made it’s way through the streets of London buildings collapsed and cellars flooded burying people with rubble and drowning them in beer. The violent event was heard up to 5 miles away and Londoners flocked to the disaster area where they found.. free beer!
Rescue workers hurrying to the area were delayed by the drunken masses drinking the beer directly off the roads. When they arrived on the scene they found a tsunami of dark beer had drowned, poisoned and buried people with rubble. As beer-soaked victims were rushed into the hospital the smell of beer led the patients on other wards to believe beer was served for all patients except for them. Not accepting this apparent injustice they started a riot in the hospital which increased the number of wounded even further. Let me repeat that, they started a riot because they smelled beer and "thought" they were being gypped.
Following the disaster the company found itself before a court which ruled the disaster to be an ‘Act of God’ which effectively meant no one was responsible. In fact the company was actually allowed to retrieve the taxes it had paid over the beer in advance.